“No!!! No kisses on me!!!”


My granddaughter, my Ellie, is the love of my life.

She is smart, sweet, beautiful, strong, feisty and affectionate. Sometimes, when I least expect it, she puts both arms around my neck and hugs me tight. “Oh, my Nonni!” she sighs. “My Nonni. You’re here!”

Sometimes she demands that I hold her, rock her, keep her warm. “Snuggle me!” she begs, after drinking a cup of the cold milk the she loves so much.

At just a bit over two years old, I am happy to indulge her. First of all, I know that a child this young truly needs to be held and loved and made to feel safe and special. But second of all, I know how fleeting this time will be. This magical time when she wants me to cuddle her and nuzzle her cheek and tell her how much I love her.

So I follow her lead. When she orders me to hug her, I do it happily.

But there is another side to this shiny coin, and it is one that Ellie’s Mom and I have talked about a lot.

That is the fact that sometimes when it’s me who asks for kisses or hugs, Ellie firmly states, “No. No kissing me.”

When I was a child, that message was most often met with, “Oh, that’s not polite! Kiss your Grandma/Aunt/Friend/Uncle/Neighbor.” Children were expected to respond with pleasure to the signs of affection from adults. Especially well known and well loved adults.

But those days are gone.

And good riddance.

Now when Ellie frowns and states, “No!” I back off as quickly as I can. “OK.” I say. “No kisses.”

It’s so hard, though! I love her SO much! I feed her, dress her, take her to the potty, rock her when she’s sad, kiss her boo-boos, tuck her in for her nap every day. I want to kiss her sweet cheek. I want to rest my lips on her brow. I want to rub my cheek on hers and nuzzle her neck.

But if she says NO, I understand that it has to be NO.

Because even more than I want to kiss her while she is still Nonni’s little girl, I want her to grow up with a sense of ownership of her own body. I want her to know the value of her affection. I want her to know, with absolute certainty, that her kisses are her gifts to give or to withhold. I want her to feel, in the deepest fibers of her heart, that if she doesn’t want to kiss someone, she doesn’t have to kiss them.

Even if that someone is her very own Nonni who made her buttered noodles today and sang her songs and washed her face ten times and didn’t fuss about the spilled juice on the rug. Even then.

If Ellie says “NO” then the answer is “NO”.

I want her to have the power to say “NO” and to mean it. Even if she says it to me.

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I only kiss Elmo.

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Love Makes Fools Of Us All


Ah, love.

Is there anyone alive who hasn’t fallen victim to the whims of love?

When we fall in love, we give up our ability to make sane choices for ourselves. We see our beloved through misty eyes. Every fault is airbrushed out, and we only want more. More time with our beloved. More closeness. More intimacy.

When we truly fall in love, we let go of our own egos. We allow ourselves to make decisions that are not in our best interest. “But it will bring me closer to my beloved,” we tell ourselves. “This is going to be great!” All we want, when we are flushed with love, is to be near our beloved. We want to touch, to kiss and hold and nuzzle and dream.

Ah, love.

You lead us all astray. You take away our ability to do what is truly best for ourselves. When you have stormed our hearts, we care nothing for ourselves.

How do I know this, you ask? Ah, I have a confession for you all.

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Who, me? Ruin your sleep?

When we lost our beloved Wolf King last month, Paul and I found ourselves with a big, huge hole in our hearts. To say we miss the old fool would be the understatement of the century. Paul, in particular, was absolutely bereft without his best buddy sleeping on the dog mattress on his side of our bed.

So.

I invited Lennie to come and sleep with us.

See, up until that point, Lennie had been sleeping (all alone) in the living room. That just seemed too sad to me. So I got out some doggie treats and coaxed him into our room, and onto the newly abandoned dog bed.

He wouldn’t stay.

So.

Um.

I coaxed him up onto our bed. With doggie treats. It took some time and some effort, but….I was falling in love with my puppy! I needed him! I wanted him nearby!

The mists of love covered my eyes, and I got the (not so) little guy to stretch out on the bed between us.

He liked it!

And there he has stayed. Every night. Stretching his full length with his head on my hip and his butt on Paul’s shoulder. Or vice versa.

We now attempt to sleep in a queen sized bed where a 50 pound dog has half the mattress and the humans have about a quarter each.

On a good night.

This is not the best situation for aging humans who need our rest. It is not best for our creaky backs or our stiff spines.

But we won’t be changing it any time soon.

Love hurts.

What can I say?

Love makes fools of us all.

Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light


Or maybe a better title for this post would be “Mental Anguish in the Time of Trump.”

I love politics. I have been following political news since before the days of Watergate. I’ve always found it fascinating to follow the actions and words of our national leaders. Even when I have vehemently disagreed with a President or Congress, I’ve enjoyed the arguments, the discussions, the matching of wits with those who disagree.

I don’t feel that way anymore.

Now, like so many other Americans, I am overwhelmed with what is happening to my country. I’m anxious, even afraid, for the first time in a very long time. But that’s not all.

I was talking all of this over with my husband, the other day. And I realized that what feels unbearable to me right now is the uncomfortable combination of rage and helplessness that hits me in the face every single day.

Rage.

I am feeling true rage about our President and those fools in Congress. Tearing away every kind of protection that our government has put in place for us. Regulations designed to keep our air and water at least marginally safe? Gone under this administration. I’m old enough to remember when our rivers were on fire and our harbors were so toxic that falling meant an immediate trip to the Emergency Room.

I’m enraged that Donald Trump is sending us back there.

Angry doesn’t begin to describe how I feel about Trump’s one sided assault on our insurance system. Congress couldn’t find a way to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, so Trump is taking a machete to it. It doesn’t matter how many people will lose coverage. It doesn’t matter how many people die.

Trump wants it to happen, so he’s making it happen.

And the list goes on, of course. Impending nuclear war with North Korea threatens the whole world, but Trump just keeps on tweeting. The United States will ignore its allies, pull out of legal treaties, go to war with anyone who annoys the man in the Oval. The NRA will keep its stranglehold on our government and more and more innocent people will die.

And then there are the lies. One after the other, day after day after day. Trump lies, lies, lies and lies some more. EVERYONE knows it. The entire media knows about it, but when they call him out, he screams, “Fake! Fake!” and repeats whatever lie it was.

That’s what brings me to the feeling of helplessness.

I am used to contacting my Congressional Reps. I contact them by mail, by email, by phone, when I think that there is an issue that needs their attention.

But what am I supposed to do now? My Congress people agree with me! They know that Trump is dangerous, unhinged, dishonest, amoral. They’re as scared as I am.

Should I march in the streets, the way I did at the Women’s March in DC and the anti-Nazi march in Boston?

It feels good when we do it, that’s for sure.

But NOTHING seems to change.

When you are living in a country that has suddenly been turned on its head, what do you do? When you find yourself going through your daily life under a President who make up his own facts, threatens the press, mocks his colleagues, admires the worst among us and lies with a completely straight face….Well. What are you supposed to do to ease that sense of fear and rage?

I feel completely helpless.

We are dealing with a completely surreal situation here. Our President wakes up every morning and tells us things that are simply untrue. He’s contradicted by those who know the truth. He repeats his made up facts. And he repeats them again.

Up has become down. The sky is pink. Trump’s agenda is, according to him, “ahead of schedule.” No President in history has been as successful as he is. No President was smarter. Or a better negotiator.

Facts no longer matter. The truth has become as malleable as hot taffy.

What are we to do?

I no longer believe that I can do a single thing to make things better or safer for my family. Now my goal is to find a way to maintain my own mental health as I sit back and watch our leaders fail to cope with the fact that we have elected a madman and he is taking us on a path of destruction.

Rage and helplessness.

Not a good mix. Not a great way to move through middle age.

What do we do? How are you holding onto your fragile sanity in an age of total insanity?

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Sometimes you just have to jump in.


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Last weekend I went away for a few days of fun and rejuvenation with some of my oldest friends. We are six middle aged women who have known each other since Girl Scouts, skinned knees, recess, first dates, first dances, first heartbreaks.  We got together so that we could reconnect.  In part we wanted to reconnect with each other, but I think that mostly we all needed to reconnect with ourselves.

We knew each other way back when. As one of my friends put it, “We knew each other before we became ourselves.”

It was a remarkable weekend. We laughed. A lot. We ate. A lot. We drank. Hoo, baby, and that was fun!

We kicked off our everyday selves and shed the responsibilities and expectations, just for a few short days. Days of letting go and sleeping in and acting silly in a way that middle aged ladies are not often encouraged to do.

And we went to the beach.

Now, it’s important to explain that we live in New England, where October beach days are generally spent in sweatshirts and hoods, with wool socks on our feet. We had hoped to walk on the beach, but when we packed, we were expecting rain and wind and at least a bit of New England cold.

Only this is the era of global warming.

We found ourselves walking, in our jeans and t shirts, along a sunny, hot New England beach. We collected shells and stones, and we took pictures and we looked out at the beautiful blue surf.

And eventually, we started to talk.

“Gee, it’s really hot out.”

“What a great day to swim.”

Nobody was in a bathing suit, except for one brave soul who wore her bathing suit top under her shirt.

We hadn’t come prepared. We didn’t have towels or dry clothes, never mind bathing suits.

But the waves were rolling in. The sun was shining off the water. The sand was warm, the air was balmy.

And so we did what we couldn’t possibly have skipped.

We ran into the waves in our clothes, with our middle aged bodies, laughing the whole way. And we dove and splashed and body surfed and yelped and crowed.

It was heaven.

Even when we had to make the ten minute walk back to our rented house, with our clothes dripping and our hair filled with sand, it was still pure heaven.

Sometimes you realize that life is just too short. It’s just too short and too unpredictable to miss a chance to jump in the ocean while you can.

What a wonderful moment to cherish.

 

It’s all so random


I’m finding it very hard to write these days.

First of all, I just can’t face the news anymore. I can’t stand the helplessness that I feel about guns, in particular. I dreamed the other night that I was shooting up Congress. I’m not kidding.

And I have never even touched a gun in my life.

Rage is so exhausting.

I’m also struggling with putting myself out there in my writing. I’ll be the first person to admit that I am a blogger, not a “writer.” I’ve never had a piece of fiction published, although I’ve sent a few things off.

It takes some internal courage to keep typing up this chatty little blog. It’s pretty personal, and its my limited attempt to keep myself feeling at least a little bit creative. It’s scary every time I hit the “publish” button, knowing that every typo will be out there. Every trite sentence will be read. People will read and react, and some will think it’s lame.

I recently had some very snarky, mean spirited comments posted about me and about this blog. Posted by someone I love and thought I could trust. It hurt more than it probably should have, and it shook me to the core.

But I need to get back on the bike, if you will. I can’t let someone else take this away from me.

I like writing. I like having this place to express myself. I thoroughly enjoy reading other blogs and being part of this community.

So here I am. I hope that those who find this blog silly, annoying, pointless or boring will do me the courtesy of just not reading it any more.

In light of all the negativity in the world right now, from the insanity of our President to the insanity of the NRA, I think I’ll write about the random nature of life.

I will write about my tomatoes.

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I picked these beauties in about 5 minutes yesterday. Aren’t they lovely? Don’t they look like a gardener actually planted them and took care of them and, you know, grew them on purpose?

Yeah.

But no.

I did plant some tomatoes last May. Right in my actual garden! Right in the soil that I had enhanced with manure and in a deep hole with the right additions. I staked them and I pruned them and I watered them. All 8 plants.

I harvested (ahem, cough, cough) a grand total of 4 cherry tomatoes.

Then I took a walk around the back of my house. You see, we had three huge pine trees cut down last fall. All kinds of new growth has sprung up where they used to cast their shade.

For almost 30 years I had a compost pile back there, in the area around those pines. But when they were cut, their limbs covered the spot, so I have started to compost indoors.

Welp. Lo and behold, while I was ignoring my backyard and letting it go wild, what looks like a veritable forest of tomato plants has taken over the old compost pile. Mixed in with black eyed susans and a lot of crab grass there are at least ten different tomato plants, and they are LOADED with fruit, of all sizes and shapes. All growing on the ground, all tangled in a heap, all overgrown.

Isn’t life random? So much for my illlusions of control.

 

I weep.


Why on earth should someone in my situation find herself all teary eyed tonight?

Well. Part of it could be that I keep watching the stupid news. North Korea wants to kill us and they’re making plans to get it done. Puerto Rico, a place I have always wanted to visit, is desperate, dying, begging for help. The world is getting hotter every day, both in terms of the climate and in terms of the international relations.

And I miss my old dog. I miss my sweet, loud mouthed, running away old hound so much. And every morning when I bring my granddaughter Ellie into the house, her first comment is “Tucker died. Him all gone. Tucker died. I miss him.”

Me, too, little girl. Me, too.

I am weepy because the season is ending. Summer is slowly giving up her last heated blast of breath, and the leaves are slowly turning yellow and gold. Winter is out there, waiting for us. The year is dying. So my eyes fill with tears.

I cry because I am tired, too. Because I have spent the past few days with my best beloved grandchildren, and they have not been well. The baby is stuffy, coughing, cranky and wanting to be held. His usual bright eyed smiles are mixed with tears and head shaking and fits of coughing that remind me of my own little babies at his age.

And Ellie. Our Ellie. Last night she slept here, having a “Pajama party for Papa!” and snuggling into bed with Paul and I. She laughed, she chatted, she sang songs. And as she drifted off to sleep, her hand gently stroked my cheek. I heard her murmuring, “Oh, Nonni. My Nonni. This Ellie’s Nonni. I love you, Nonni!”

So my heart filled up, and it overflowed, and it keeps on running. She loves me. He loves me. Their Mama loves me.

But I didn’t get very much sleep last night. Or any today. So I’m feeling fragile. And weepy.

And my puppy Lennie, trying desperately right now to get me to play tug-o-war with his favorite chew toy? He loves me. And he reminds me of the one we lost. He misses Tucker, too.

So I’m weepy.

Tired, and really just “I sprung a leak” sloppy.

Life is good, for as long as it lasts.

I’m just feeling a little bit…I guess…well, I feel kind of weepy.

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We miss you, Tucky. 

The Munchies


Have you ever heard of Munchausen syndrome? It’s a mental illness which causes people to fabricate illness so that they can get support, approval, caring. They make themselves seem sicker than they are, just so you’ll feel bad for them.

You know what this is. It’s the person who constantly talks about his bad back/heart disease/ulcers so that everyone in your social group is constantly taking care of him. It’s the old hypochondriac pattern that we’ve all seen. Someone who is constantly suffering from a broken bone/allergic reaction/torn muscle/rare syndrome. The one who at first seems so stoic and strong, but later seems just plain determined to be suffering at all times.

If you’ve known this syndrome, you may also know about Munchausen by proxy. In this case there is a caregiver, almost always a mother, who becomes so fixated on her role as the parent of a sick child that she goes to incredible lengths to keep that child sick.

I have known some of these moms. They were all incredibly devoted, completely involved and impressively knowledgeable about the challenges faced by their young children.

I knew a Mom who used to show me a huge three ring binder of medical notes about her two year old son. She showed it to me every single week when I came to do speech/language therapy with her son. She went over it every week for over a year. She used to smile gently, and give a little shake of her head as she told me, “The gastroenterologist thinks I should have a medical degree by now!”

It took me a long time to realize that her sense of pride was incompatible with what should have been her desire to make her baby well. In fact, I came to realize over many months, she didn’t want him to be better. She wanted him to continue to be her beautiful, fragile, brave little guy. She wanted this because she wanted to hold onto her role as his brave, smart, caring, patient mother.

And you know what?

He WAS beautiful, fragile, and brave. And she absolutely WAS brave, smart, caring and patient.

I thought that it was all just crazy.

Until I started to understand her desires and motivations.

It happened to me when I had two little boys of my own with chronic severe asthma. And I became the Mom who was told by our allergist, “I hope you don’t mind, but I have two med students here for your appointment. I wanted them to meet a Mom who does everything right but still has boys with severe asthma.”

If you don’t think I swelled up with pride over that visit, you don’t understand maternal motivation. I LOVED that day.

So now I find myself a grandmother. A Nonni who takes care of her two little grandchildren every day so their parents can go to work without worrying about them. I find myself the doting Nonni who took care of not one, but two sick babies last week. Both of them had a bad cold, coughs, congestion, head aches.

I took care of them.

They were sick. And suddenly, so sweetly, my independent, self assured two year old Ellie looked up at me and said, “Nonni pick Ellie up? Nonni make Ellie feel better, please?” I scooped that beautiful little one into my arms and started to rock her in my soft red rocking chair. She put her head on my chest and sighed. “Nonni make Ellie feel better,” she said, and my heart almost swelled right out of my chest.

I was happy that she didn’t feel well. I was. She needed me. She asked for me. She told me that I was the answer to what ailed her.

Her baby brother, little three month old Johnny, caught the same cold, and the next day he could only be soothed by my arms and my rocking and my off-key singing. There was more than one point in that day when Nonni held one child in each arm, rocking and singing and kissing warm, fevery foreheads.

And that is why I understand the allure of the Munchausen by proxy set. I know what it means to feel retired, old, out to pasture, not quite anyone’s Mom. And I understand the incredible power that comes through in the moment when a soft, warm cheek is pressed to mine in search of solace.

I have never, ever, ever, in my entire life, felt more important or more valued that I have in the moments when my children or theirs have needed me to make them feel better.

I promise, I swear on everything I love, that I will never, ever do one single thing to make my little ones sick or hurt. This is why I am not a Munchausen Mommy.

But.

I will absolutely and positively revel in those few sweet moments when my little loves need me to comfort and care for them.

I guess I am just the tiniest bit “munchy”, but I don’t apologize. Rocking a feverish toddler is one of life’s great pleasures, and I don’t mind the fact that I love it.

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“Nonni, hold Ellie now?”

 

“I pledge allegience….”


What on earth are we doing when we ask little children to recite the words in our “Pledge of allegiance”?

What are we doing?

Have you ever listened in when very young kids are trying to repeat these words? I have. I was a teacher for almost 30 years.

“I predger legiance to the flag on the United States of American.”

“And to the republic of Richard Sands…”

“One nation, underground….”

What are we doing?

We are asking children to join a club they don’t understand. We are asking them to promise loyalty forever to a piece of cloth. At least, that’s what it seems like for them.

Really, honestly, when we adults stand up and place our hands on our hearts, and say these words, we are pledging our loyalty to “The republic for which” that flag stands. We are promising that we will do our best to protect and defend the “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

So what if we see a republic in which there is no “indivisible” group of people who receive “liberty and justice” equally? What should we do?

Because we live in the United States of America, we have the right to protest. We have the duty, as Americans, to do our best to demand that there is equality in the liberty and justice that is applied to all.

Even kids who came here from the Dominican Republic at the tender age of 6 months and who now live, work, learn, contribute as “Dreamers”. We have a duty to point it out if we think those people are not experiencing liberty and justice that is equal to ours.

If we see that our Black friends live in a kind of fear that we will never know, if we see that young black men are afraid to drive to work after dark or fear for their lives if their taillight goes out, then we have a duty to complain.

The fact that some rich, famous American athletes like Colin Kaepernick have chosen to stay on one knee during the reciting of the “Promise to be eternally loyal to our country”is proof that this country is worthy of our allegiance.

When I was a teacher, I was mandated by law to have my class recite the Pledge of Allegiance at least once per month. So I spent a considerable amount of time teaching my innocent ten year old charges the seriousness of standing, placing a hand over our hearts, and solemnly repeating those words. I made sure that every single one of them understood what it is that they were saying.

I had an assignment where they were asked to put the pledge into their own words.

Most importantly of all, I told them, those wide eyed young children, that they would never, ever be obligated to stand and say those words. I impressed upon them the fact that making a pledge must be voluntary.

“If your government insists that you have to stand up and swear your loyalty,” I told each child, “then you are not living in a free and open society. If you are ordered to swear loyalty, you are living in a dictatorship.”

And I thought about the people I knew who lived under Joseph Stalin. I thought about the children in front of me whose parents and grandparents fled from dictatorships in Iran, in North Korea, in China.

The only NFL player that I have ever admired in my entire life is Colin Kaepernick. I salute him and all of those who are joining in taking a knee because they want the United States of America to be worthy of their pledge of allegiance.

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Boomerfest


 

I have a wicked good idea.

My husband and I just came home from a three day bluegrass and roots music festival in the beautiful Berkshire Hills of North Adams, Massachusetts. It was so much fun!

We were surrounded by an incredible amount of talent performing on four stages and in various spots around the MassMoca art museum. We danced more than we have in what feels like forever! There was also a ton of delicious and varied foods, from pizza to maple donuts to vegan tacos and gourmet grilled cheese.

And so much good beer, wine and all that mood altering deliciousness.

Wow.

This means, of course, that I am writing this blog at 8 pm on Sunday from under the covers of my bed. My sore legs and feet are propped up, there’s an ice pack on my knee, and I’ve taken my Tums and my ibuprofin. My 61 year old body feels like I’ve been in a prize fight.

Music festivals are not for sissies.

So I was thinking.

Given the fact that the original rock and roll generation is getting pretty long in the tooth, maybe these festivals should be geared more for older patrons. I mean, extra spicy bloody Marys are all well and good for all the millennials in the crowd at the Fresh Grass Festival, but what about the rest of us?

So I’ve been thinking. I have decided to put on my own music festival just for us mature types. I shall call it “BOOMERFEST”.

These are my plans so far.

Food:

Last night I got hungry for a little nosh, and I went to one of the food courts. I thought my blood sugar might have been a little low, you know? Just needed a little something to take the edge off and give me energy.

I ended up with an entire plate of sweet potato fries.

At Boomerfest, we’ll still have the pizza, the home made ice cream and the dumplings, but we’ll also offer nice fresh choices. Just to lower the likelihood of one of us keeling over from a heart attack.

Boomerfest will feature an entire food court devoted to fruits, veggies and whole grains! Of course, all the vegetables will be cooked. Raw veggies give us gas.

We’ll have a Tea Truck, too. Some of us like a little mid afternoon pick-me-up. Maybe some nice decaf tea with those little arrowroot cookies. Or some seltzer and a few crackers.

Drink:

We are keeping the Bloody Marys, the mango Mimosas and all the local beers and great wines. We are old, but we are not stupid. Why do you think they call it a “festival”?

So while we’ll have plenty of high quality hooch, we’ll also offer healthier options. I haven’t perfected the prune juice martini yet, but I think it has potential.

Health/First Aide

This is an important topic. Fresh Grass had a big first aid tent and I’m sure it had lots of logical supplies like bandages and ice packs and Narcan, but our place will be a little different.

In addition to the usual supplies, we’re going to stock antacids, laxatives (we’re away from home), denture adhesives and those little pads you can stick on your corns and bunions. We don’t need anything to get in the way of us dancing till we fall over!

Patrons will be encouraged to come in and take a few breaths if they’ve they’ve gotten too close to the stage and all those hot young musicians. Can’t be too careful.

Finally, you know how festivals often set up a fan in front of a hose, so you can get sprayed and cooled off as you go buy? Well, I’m going to set up a device that sprays sun screen down on people from above.

Older women often have thinner hair than they realize. I have had first-hand experience forgetting about my old-lady head on a sunny day and waking up the next morning to Scorched Scalp Syndrome.

And need I mention the older guys who hear one riff of an electric guitars and suddenly forget they aren’t 20 any more? The ones wearing hats won’t even notice the sunscreen spray, but it will save the baldys with the scraggly gray ponytails a boatload of pain on Monday morning.

What do you think?

Anyone want to come to my festival next summer? In the comments below, please leave your suggestions for how to make Boomerfest a safe and exciting time for everyone.

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Sure, these two are young. I gave birth to both of them.

 

“Stay at home…..Nonni”


I am a child of the 60s. My stay at home, Italian, Catholic, good girl mother was the very first feminist I have ever known.

Mom got married at 20 and raised 6 of us kids before she finally went back to get her college degree and begin a career in education. She was a feminist without ever calling herself that.

She organized the paraprofessional educators in our town to form their own union. She argued with our middle school principal when the rules insisted that girls had to wear skirts to school, even when it was 5 degrees and snowing out. She told him that when the boys wore shorts, her daughters would wear skirts.

The rules changed.

I grew up expecting myself to be a liberated woman. I knew that I wanted a career, even as I recognized my desire to be a mother.

I married my sweetheart at the tender age of 22. We both went to graduate school, where I earned a Master’s Degree while he went all the way to a doctorate. We both believed in our careers and our skills and our desire to contribute to society. I became a Speech/language Specialist, working with young children. He became a Clinical Psychologist.

We loved our work. We were proud of what we did.

So when we had children, it wasn’t a hard decision for me to go back to work. We needed the money. We needed the insurance that my job offered.

And I needed a place to go where I could feel smart and valued and worthy.

Now,(as the politicians say) let me be perfectly clear: I loved my kids so much it was kind of ridiculous. I thought of them 24 hours a day, I adored them, I treasured them, I hurt when I wasn’t with them.

But the thought of staying home all day, every day, to tend to the diapers and spit ups and juice boxes of those early years would have had me running off into the night without a thought.

And that’s what I am finding so funny now.

Now I am a stay at home Nonni. I spend all day, every day, Mon-Friday, with my two-year-old granddaughter and her three-month-old brother. I change up to 12 diapers a day. My fingernails have Desitin under them. Even as I write these words, I can smell old spit up milk and peanut butter crackers on my shirt. My sweaty, wrinkled, stinky old T shirt.

I wash faces 20 times a day. I brush tiny teeth. I read the same book over. and over. and over.

I chip baby pukies off the bottoms of my chairs. I do laundry ever other day just so I can have a clean burp cloth and at least one clean facecloth.

I can name every single character in “Finding Dory” and sing all the songs from “Moana.”

Thirty years ago, this would have made me insane.

But now I love it, poopie smells and all.

And it makes me wonder how a young feminist became such an old softie. How did I go from wanting to change the world to cheering when my little girl does pee-pee in the potty?

I’m not sure.

But I’ve given it a lot of thought, mostly while rocking babies to sleep.

So here are some of my thoughts on the subject of staying at home to nurture babies:

It’s easier now. It’s so much easier not to take every tantrum and every ignored meal personally.

From the vantage point of old age, I realize that little kids are tiny humans with their own moods and temperaments. They have their likes and dislikes. They have bad days. It is not about me. I would never have understood that as a young Momma.

It’s easier to let myself be a slob now. Nobody is looking at me and thinking, “wow, she let herself go.” If the neighbors see me outside in my flannel pants and baggy sweatshirt, pushing a double stroller, they think, “Oh, good for her!” They don’t think, “She looks like hell. Where is her self-respect?” At thirty, I could never have let myself be so comfortable.

And most of all, at the happy age of 61, I no longer feel like I need to prove myself to the world. Unlike my young, eager, unproven self, I am now happy to accept the fact that I am just fine. I have earned my place in the universe. I have raised three great humans. I have had a solid and successful career. I still have interesting and thoughtful friends. I read. I write. I vote. I’m enough for me.

So if my entire morning is spent playing with Playmobile jungle animals and eating gold fish out of paper cups….who the hell cares?

I am so very grateful that when I was a young mother with a full head of steam and lots of ambition, I had a place to do good work. And I am even more grateful that now, when I am finally ready to accept myself for who I have become, I am able to spend my days making home-made playdoh and watching Elmo’s Playhouse.

I am a stay at home Nonni and I’m proud of it!

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Yes, these are our toys.